Brussels, 21 Apr 2005
Different cultures have led the EU and the US to use different approaches for tacking the same public health concerns. Yet both entities have a lot to learn from each other and must look into taking cooperation forward and delivering on a number of issues of mutual importance, says EU Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection, Markos Kyprianou.
Speaking on EU and US health concerns and policies at the European Institute in Washington on 20 April, Mr Kyprianou called on the EU and the US to share their ideas and experience on issues such as global health threats, obesity, rising health expenditure and the role of health technologies.
On the subject of global health threats, Mr Kyprianou explained that the EU is working on increasing vaccine and anti-viral drug availability for pandemic influenza.
'We have proposed a public-private partnership between the EU, its Member States and the vaccine industry to accelerate the development of pandemic vaccines and to boost their production,' said Mr Kyprianou. 'Furthermore, we have proposed to underwrite the costs of pandemic vaccines used in a pandemic situation, thus providing an incentive to our Member States to conclude advance purchase agreements with the vaccine industry, or to develop their own production lines,' he added.
As Mr Kyprianou explained, the EU is not only contributing to the replacement of stocks of anti-virals and other medicines to be used in public health emergencies, but also enhancing the EU's institutional structures for health. One of these new institutions, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, is a direct consequence of the success of the US's own agency in Atlanta, he said.
'I hope to see strong links develop between the EU and US disease control centres - in particular to engage our respective health and pharmaceutical sectors by determining an agenda for action and creating an operational platform for emergency preparedness and response,' he continued.
'The EU and US are both fighting to slow down and hopefully reverse the obesity epidemic - and with it the health problems this generates [...] and we look forward to contributing to further and better cooperation between the EU and the US,' Mr Kyprianou said.
As the EU Commissioner explained, another taxing problem on both sides of the Atlantic is that of rising expenditure on healthcare, a phenomenon partly due to progressive innovation on medical technologies and techniques.
'New technologies often make healthcare more efficient, but it is essential that their use is properly based on evaluation and evidence,' stated Mr Kyprianou. 'This is another area where we are keen to promote the sharing of experiences within Europe. I believe that EU-US co-operation is also valuable here. This is one area where the US may be interested to know more about the agencies set up in the EU that explore the cost utility of new innovations into existing health care settings. One such example is the UK's National Institute for Clinical Excellence.
'Yet again, this is an area where we can share data, analysis, best practice and experience,' concluded the Commissioner.